Mucilage and gums
A gum is a dried up (concentrated) mucilage.
And mucilages soothe mucous membranes locally.
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate molecules. You can't tincture mucilaginous plants in high-% alcohol and expect the tincture to help your mucous membranes: the alcohol splits the complex carbohydrates into simple carbs.
You'll find lots of mucilage in the mallows, in slippery elm bark, in linseed, in psyllium seed, and in iceland moss, to mention a few.
I add mallow leaf and flowers to most of my "just for company" teas, cos the mucilage makes for a rounder tea. It just tastes better.
Of course I always add mallows to my gut-soothing teas, and to most of my urinary tract infection teas.
Long long long ago I heard that the mucilage molecules of mallow tea come through unchanged in your pee. (Teehee. You've heard of the princess test? That's a gel who can pee through seven mattresses ...)
And that's fascinating. See, these molecules should be far too complex to get into your blood -> kidneys -> pee.
Mallows, that is anything at all in the Malvaceae family. That's all the mallows, that's hollyhock, marshmallow, hibiscus, and that's the aboveground parts of cotton. (The root of cotton is the only mallow I know of that isn't mucilaginous. In fact, it's ghastly. Gack. But very good for menstrual cramps ...)
Another hmmm is, if you eat something that requires stomach acid, and drink a mucilaginous tea, the tea will work only on the stomach lining, cos the stomach acid will split the mucilage into simple carbs. As far as I know, that is.
Gums, then. Gum of acacia? It's dried-up mucilage, just add water. Other water-soluble gums? They're dried-up mucilage, just add water ... and they've all been used as gut soothers, and for various other mucous-membrane related problems. And gum of acacia is the base for most water-soluble glues, but unfortunately you can't take a bite out of a glue stick if you have gut upset: they add inedible (and toxic) bits to that glue, to stop it from growing mold and things.
Related entries: Constituents